NRG Energy— a wholesale generator and publicly traded company— announced plans to build a network of 150 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in Houston starting in February 2011, then to expand this network throughout Texas and the United States.
According to the most recent, annual Green Cities Index, 78% of Houston commuters drive alone, and the city ranked 38th, meaning it is one of the worst out of 43 measured U.S. cities in terms of air quality.
A spokesman for the NRG eVgo Network said, “We hope to use the infrastructure we have to reduce co2 emissions and put a dent in our addiction to overseas oil.” Houston’s new charging station network will include 150 of NRG’s eVgo brand ev charging stations, 50 of them rapid charging stations that can fully juice an electric vehicle in 30 minutes.
The stations will be installed in parking lots at retailers that partner with NRG, including Walgreens and Best Buy, and in the lots of large corporate and school campuses along Houston’s major thoroughfares.
The charging stations will be positioned at locations within twenty-five miles of the city center, easing what automakers refer to as “range anxiety,” (a fear that an electric car, if taken far from home, will wind up stranded and battery-depleted).
Electricity retailers including Direct Energy and TXU Energy partner with NRG to supply power plans to EV drivers. NRG also considers its own electricity retail divisions, Reliant Energy and Green Mountain Energy eVgo partners.
Customers who buy eVgo brand charging stations for their homes will be able to subscribe to plans from $49-$89 per month. At the highest end, the plan includes the cost of electricity, and unlimited charging sessions at their home and publicly placed, Houston-area charging stations. All the plans include the installation and maintenance of a charging station at home. At the lowest end, users pay for the cost of electricity and do not have prepaid access to publicly positioned stations.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker held a press conference with NRG on Thursday to unveil the charging stations network. According to the Houston Chronicle, she also announced the city would open its carpool lanes on local freeways to highway-safe electric vehicles, and that the city would try to get toll road operators to reduce fees for EVs.